Saturday, 19 October 2013

19/10/13 - Slasher

Distance - 5 Miles
Geocaches - 5
Start - Old Hill
Finish - Tipton
Stage 3 of the Brummie Ring

Stage 3 of the Brummie Ring.  The word is out and I have company for my first trip into Tipton.  I drive up to the free car parking, having worked out the way to get back on two trains to Old Hill.  Unlike last week, the trains are running on time.

They all want in on the Brummie Ring
Dogs and Wives can both come on the Brummie Ring
Great Train Journeys #267883
Tipton to Old Hill - A new "Great Rail Journey" to be offered in the back of the Mail.
Alight at Old Hill and then pick up the canal.  This is the walking for the first couple of miles.  Its deep in an urban landscape but decent enough walking, with various signs telling us of the past.  This includes notes on an escapee from the Gunpowder Plot and the ruined offices of the Toll Master.

Whilst I am looking for cache under a bridge, Sonia warns me of its spookiness as she reads the nearest sign.  I have to point out its Gosty Tunnel, not Ghostly Tunnel.

As we approach Cobb's Engine House, I remember that Bumble Hole visitor centre is close by.  We pop in for a cuppa and listen to the old fellas talking about whether rum or whisky is best to be added to tea.  Once again, the dog turns her nose up at the free dog biscuits on offer.

We get back on the trail proper, leaving the canal behind for an uphill slog through Bumble Hole nature reserve.

Uphill from Cobb's
Leaving the Engine House and Clent Hills Behind.
Quick bit of maintenance at a cache location and then we have some urban road walking into the heart of Dudley.  Sonia tells me about how the dry dock pub is just behind the visitor centre and how future Brummie Ring walkers would appreciate the only pub in the UK with a barge inside.  All a bit late now we are a mile away.

We hit Dudley.  The castle really juxtaposes the town centre.  I was going to take a photo but got distracted by a van selling Indian food.  I did not expect Chicken Tikka Wraps for lunch when I set out this morning.  Sonia told the world of facebook how I treat her like a princess by taking her out for lunch.

Down to the castle and across waste ground that runs between this and the Black Country Museum.  Ellie asks us to go every year.  She has no interest in history and just likes the chips.

We notice that we are back down by the canal and see if we can incorporate this into the Brummie Ring.  However, it has been blocked off by the Black Country Museum who want to charge you to enter and to take barge trips.  It did make an interesting diversion.

Another Tunnel
Taking Tourists under the Castle
Retrace our steps and run into more canal related issues where there is a great route that is only spoiled by not have a bridge over it to get back to Tipton.

And we don't want to miss out on Tipton, as we have a date with the Slasher.

The Slasher
William Perry - The Tipton Slasher
Having paid our respects to his statue, we need to check out his head quarters.  A hard living, fighting and drinking man had to make his home in the pub.

Today's Pub
The Fountain Inn - Molly heads to the home of the Slasher

Nice Baps
Best pint of Banks Bitter for a long time.  And £1 Baps
Back to the car at Tipton.  Another successful leg on the Brummie Ring.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

13/10/13 - Millennium Misery

Distance - 3 Miles
Geocaches - 2 Found, 1 I am not climbing into a bush for in this weather
Walk Inspiration

Week behind with all my plans at the moment.  The Millennium Way walk is usually the first weekend of the month.  I am now on Stage 5 and as this is number 1 in the list of 44, so I assume it's the shortest walk of the trail.

Not that I am complaining.  We checked the weather forecast for today and its said "Cats and Dogs" followed by "Biblical".

Park up at the Royal Oak.  I have used this before and I would use it today if I am in any condition, so don't feel too bad about using their car park.  Which is half full at 9am on a Sunday.  Can only assume it was a good night last night.

We head off into the sheep fields behind us.  The walking is good but the weather isn't.

Rain not yet biblical
At this point - merely canine and feline
Not much to report, we pass a lovely cottage, with Bow Brook running underneath it.  I would have taken a photo but the fella was having a smoke out of his kitchen window.

We are back on familiar ground at Churchill Mill.  I tell Sonia of the woman dancing to Robin Thicke in the car park of the fitness centre during Millennium Walk 4. 

The rain takes a turn that would have sent Noah into raptures of told you so smugness.

Yeah - we are feeling great
Not really, no.
Cross the road at the March Hare and skirt around the edges of Broughton Hackett.  Enter the church grounds and find a cache that has us stumped for a while.  Its amazing how good the camo is at blending things in.

We are on the home stretch, picking up mud that attaches to our boots to the size of dinner plates.  The 2nd cache seems to involve some diving into bushes.  Not even I am prepared to do this, although why I am concerned, I do not know.  You can only get so wet.

Last cache at Bow Brook.  Thankfully an easy find and then we have to skirt Court Farm to return to the car.

The Oak - Refuge
Bet they have a roaring fire...
Allowed in the Pub?
But would they let me in?

Saturday, 12 October 2013

12/10/13 - Train takes the Strain?

Distance - 7.3 Miles
Geocaches - 8 New Ones found
Start - Longbridge
Finish - Old Hill
Stage 2 - The Brummie Ring

The Brummie Ring continues to evolve.  7 days on from the initial plan and phase 2 takes shape.

First off, I have to get to my starting point at Longbridge.  I decide the easiest thing is to drive to the end point, Old Hill and then take the two trains to Longbridge that are required.

Parking is easy and free.  I ask the man in his hut for a single to Longbridge.  I get the feeling I am the first person to ever ask for this as he fannys around with his machine for an age.  I take my ticket to the shelter, keeping out the worst of the rain.

Now, after estate agents and recruitment consultants, the next biggest professional liars are people connected to the travel industry.  My 9:06 train has a 20 minute delay.  So I go and find a quick cache.  When I get back, it's been cancelled.

I need to wait for the 9:36.  Which is coming in at 9:55.  It gets to 9:54 and a woman is kicking off.  She has had a word with Mr "Don't know where Longbridge is" and its not coming.  At 9:57, our electric board of doom tells us its coming at 10:06.

It does.  At 10:04, a hoard of elderly shoppers emerge from nowhere.  How come I have waited for an hour and they turn up bang on time?  I can only think they have the sight.

Train into Moor Gate and then a quick walk into New Street.  Be nice when its finished.  Get the correct Redditch train to Longbridge.  Nice journey, alongside the canals and through Cadbury's factory - something I have never seen before.

Alight at Longbridge.  I know I have a good couple of miles of road walking and it starts OK - getting me a cache and then a sausage roll from Tesco Express.  The bit of road walking at Egghill lane needs a rethink - no real path and cars zooming past.  It does have good views and takes us to Frankley Beeches but it's too dangerous.  Other people's safety is in my hands.  Well, at least Mrs Mappiman's is - at the moment, she is the only person taking an interest in the Brummie Ring.

Needs some thought
Frankly, Mr Shankley, Its a race track

Couldn't be more pleased to get on the footpath and drop down to the M5 at the services.

Frankey Mr Shankley
So close to Burger King and M&S Simply food - but no Cigar
Maybe its leaving the roads behind, but I have some good walking as I make my way across fields and through woods to Illey.  There are a couple of caches to get that need a text home to help decipher the clues.

Get a well received, but unexpected chance to rejuice.

Half Time Refreshments
There was a woman staring at me through that window
Well all need rejuicing
Sat Nav and Mappiman need a top up
Pick up the Monarch's way through some more fields and get a chance to become re-acquainted with the old Abbey at Halesowen.  I still cannot quite get over the fact that something built in 1215 is opposite the Sandvik factory.

Over the A456 and into Leasowes Park, picking up the number 2 Dudley canal.  Its not up to much in the early stage but does improve.

Overgrown Start to Canal
From Rack and Ruin....
More like a Canal
To a geocache superhighway
The canal takes me all the way to Gorsty Hill Tunnel.  I can walk no more but my station is close by.

For my fan(s), I need to provide post walk refreshment and we have perfection.

Chipper and Pub - Refreshment Choice
A chipper opposite a pub
We want to give the tourists a sample of black country life and this pub has got the lot.  Tick off man with tattooed neck.... tick off top quality Enville Ale and the number one thing on the menu list behind the bar?

Faggots.  £5.95.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

06/10/13 - Finishing off the Cots Pots

Distance - 6.7 Miles
First Cache on Trail
Caches = 37, 1 could not look.
Central Loop
Northern Loop

Great Cotswolds Walk - Southern

The Central loop was completed in July, the Northern Loop in August and I made a promise to get back and finish off the Southern Loop by the end of September.

A couple of other projects got in the way.  First off, I finished the Capital Ring which gave me the inspiration to invent a circular walk around our 2nd City - The Brummie Ring.

Sorry about that, I seem to have more ideas than time.

2nd apology is that I have dated all today's logs with the 7/10/13.  Obviously getting ahead of myself.

I have a wonderful drive down today.  Serious mist patches, reach their aesthetic peak at the Avon flood plain, near Tewkesbury, with low swirls around the water under cobalt skies.  If I could have stopped on the hard shoulder for a photo, I would have.  It then clears completely, promising a great day, before re-appearing as I get to Cirencester. 

First part of the walk shrouded in a Victorian pea souper.

Arrive at Quenington for my usual parking space.  The tape promises a Cotwoldian murder mystery but it is a rather more mundane car boot sale on the village green.

Costwolds Murder Mystery
Car Boot most horrid
I have to work out which way around to do these caches, but arriving back at the pub seems the most sensible plan, so I go in an anti clockwise manner.  This gives me the opportunity to grab cache number 1 from the original route - which had been muggled the day before I got down in July.  Nice to get that smiley done.

North on roads, before turning left onto a great path.  No point in taking photos in the grey, so contend myself with the caches.  After two previous journeys, I know what to expect.

Do 16, with nothing much to report, apart from dropping off a TB.  Number 109 is in a copse and it takes me a while to find, but the great news is that the fog has lifted when I come out of the trees and back into the fields.

Fog Clearing
The vista that had been cruelly denied
Number 110 proves a problem, as two farmers are having a proper old chat.  Probably about where the fog has gone.  This means that I cannot even look for it.  My only fail on the southern route.

Into Fairford.  It promises an historic church, which I see in the distance but don't get too close to.  I am sure that I will be back.

Underneath a flight path
Meet a couple of muggles - first human contact of the day.  Wait for them to go before resuming the cache hunt.

I am interested in what happens next, as the trail is not marked on footpaths on the maps.  On arriving at GZ, I can see there is a permissible path that will take me all the way back to Quenington.

This is most pleasant walking, along the River Coln.

Pitham Brook Path
The route is open
I am being followed by a Grandfather and child muggle pair.  I can see them in the distance and some Benny Hill manoeuvers take place as I try and lose them.  Eventually, sit on a GZ and let them place.

The Brook
The River Coln
From that point on, its just me, the cows and the caches.  I am on a deadline to get back home for 2pm for Sunday Lunch.  However, a walk is not a walk without the post walk pint.

Will I make it in time?

Post Match Refreshment
So that's them all done.   Well nearly.  I had a couple of DNF on Phase 1 and one that was guarded by farmers. Thanks  Rooster72 - you have put me on target for my best ever cache year.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

05/10/13 - A new plan is born

Distance - 8.4 Miles
Start - Alvechurch
Finish - Longbridge
Geocaches - 11

The BrummieRing WebSite


Last weekend, I completed the Capital Ring.  I was thinking of my next challenge and actually booked the rail tickets for the start of the Capital Loop.... Similar but further out.  Then I thought some more and came up with the idea of creating a 2nd City equivalent.

The BrummieRing was born.

Within an hour, I had a rough outline of the route.  Within 2 hours, I had learned how to create a website.  Then Mrs Mappiman told me it was time to go to bed.

Today, I have to walk the first stage, so that I can add on the walking directions.

Park up at Alvechurch station and then walk across a field that Mrs Mappiman claims "will leave her boots built up like a disabled shoe".  She has a way with words.  I should let her write the blog.  We pick up the canal, which we will follow all the way up to the Bittel Reservoirs.

Canal Side
House for Sale - Canal Dreams
This is the stretch where all the geocaches are.  At various times, I am under tunnels and up trees.  At cache 3, Sonia marches off.  Not to worry.... no-one can get lost on a canal towpath can they?

I grab cache 4 and 5 and then get a call.  "Where are you?".  She has gone marching back the way we came and somehow missed me.  I wasn't even up the tree at this point.

I console myself by making friends with Worm Danglers.  I have changed my mind on them.  Their catch was rather impressive.

Pike and Chips for Tea
Belly of the Beast
The Belly of the Beast
Sonia eventually turns up.  The next cache involves the tree climbing.  Her mood improves immeasurably when I use a rather too thin branch to aid my descent.  It didn't take the girth of Mappiman.

We hit the reservoirs, dissecting the lower and upper ones.  Have a chat with the Farmer at Bittell Farm.  He has a brummie accent which somehow seems wrong on a farmer. 

Up through Cofton and onto the first of the Lickey Hills.  We vowed not to pass any chance of refreshments and the cafe at the Golf Course provides the first rest.

Par 3 Breakfast
I had the Par 3 Breakfast.  Sonia choked on her Bacon Sarnie
One other punter in the cafe... an older Yorkshire gentleman who is regaling the waitress with tales of his love life.

On a Full English Breakfast, the climb to the Toposcope is a struggle, but the views are worth it.

Mysterious, Brooding and Very Small
We can see the Brummie Ring from here
Drop down the hill and across the golf course.  Look out for the badly dressed men firing balls at us.  The navigation gets a little tricky here but we do emerge from the undergrowth at a prime location.

No Refreshments Spurned
Rule are Rules... No refreshment opportunity to be spurned
Across Cofton Park now and we arrive at the entrance to the Longbridge Plant.  This has changed a lot since I used to work here.  Factories replaced with houses.

Final bit of road walking, but its all nicely tree lined, before we get to Longbridge station and the train back to Alvechurch.  Took us 4.5 hours to get here.  Nine minutes to get back.  And £2.50 for a single.

Time to go home
Just missed the train.
So Phase 1 of my new idea done.  I doubt the walking is going to get any better than this.  The next stage ends at Old Hill.